Russia eyes Arctic future, launches nuclear icebreaker

The goal, say experts, is to test the West’s defenses. The U.S. and other intelligence agencies have responded by moving into the Ukrainian networks to pick up the signals. “Getting intelligence ahead of time is important,” says Dymtro Shymkiv, the former head of Microsoft in Ukraine and President Petro Poroshenko’s chief adviser on cyber between 2014 and 2018. “Some of the viruses and malware in the energy blackouts in Ukraine were later found in the U.S. and Israel.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin enjoys skiing at the Gazprom Mountain Resort (Laura) in the Black sea resort of Sochi, Russia, February 13, 2019. (Photo by Mikhail KLIMENTYEV / SPUTNIK / AFP) (Photo credit should read MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia launches nuclear icebreaker Ural to exploit Arctic’s commercial potential – with two more to follow

Russia launched a nuclear-powered icebreaker Saturday, part of an ambitious program to renew and expand its fleet of the vessels in order to improve its ability to tap the Arctic’s commercial potential.

  • The ship is one of a trio that when completed will be the largest and most powerful icebreakers in the world

It is part of a push to strengthen Moscow’s hand in the High North as it vies for dominance with Canada, the US, Norway and China

The ship, dubbed the Ural and which was floated out from a dockyard in St Petersburg, is one of a trio that when completed will be the largest and most powerful icebreakers in the world.

Russia is building new infrastructure and overhauling its ports as, amid warmer climate cycles, it readies for more traffic via what it calls the Northern Sea Route (NSR) which it envisages being navigable year-round.

The Ural is due to be handed over to Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy corporation Rosatom in 2022 after the two other icebreakers in the same series, Arktika (Arctic) and Sibir (Siberia), enter service.

People attend the float out ceremony of the nuclear-powered icebreaker Ural at the Baltic Shipyard in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Saturday. Photo: Reuters
People attend the float out ceremony of the nuclear-powered icebreaker Ural at the Baltic Shipyard in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Saturday. Photo: Reuters

Russia launched a nuclear-powered icebreaker on Saturday, part of an ambitious programme to renew and expand its fleet of the vessels to improve its ability to tap the Arctic’s commercial potential.

The ship, dubbed the Ural and which was floated out from a dockyard in St Petersburg, is one of a trio that when completed will be the largest and most powerful icebreakers in the world.

Russia is building new infrastructure and overhauling its ports as, amid warmer climate cycles, it readies for more traffic via what it calls the Northern Sea Route (NSR) which it envisages being navigable year-round.

The Ural is due to be handed over to Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy corporation Rosatom in 2022 after the two other icebreakers in the same series, Arktika (Arctic) and Sibir (Siberia), enter service.

“The Ural together with its sisters are central to our strategic project of opening the NSR to all-year activity,” Alexey Likhachev, Rosatom’s chief executive, was quoted saying.

President Vladimir Putin said in April Russia was stepping up construction of icebreakers with the aim of significantly boosting freight traffic along its Arctic coast.

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